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It might be a reflection of me, or my friends, rather than the world at large, but the passing of Henryk Gorecki marked the first time since Michael Jackson that I found out about a musician’s death through a text message rather than the news. To me, it seems like that speaks volumes about how deeply people care about his music, how unerringly it connects with its audience. And this is to say nothing of the way one of his most famous and most cherished friends and compatriots reacted. As CBC reported, “[Krzysztof] Penderecki insisted on seeing him [in hospital]. We tried to joke, make plans for the future. Penderecki promised he would direct his Beatus Vir for his 80th birthday.” That birthday, like Penderecki’s own 80th, would have been in 2013. Something as simple, poignant, and sweet as that says everything. His death, like his music, was deeply human.

That is one thing that’s refreshing, almost, about Gorecki’s death. The last time I wrote an obituary for this blog, I was writing about a man that died very young and very suddenly. This time, I’m writing about a 76 year old man who had been ill for some time. There is no big story here, no coals to rake over, no skeletons in the closet to pause on – there is just a tribute to be paid to a great artist, and nothing more. We arguably haven’t had that since Stockhausen died, and even he did his…

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I don’t know much of anything about Young Magic (I don’t even know, really, what that picture above is, except has something to do w/r/t the artist), except that his debut song, “You With Air,” is the exact kind of dark, soulful, lo-fi pop that I’ve been searching for relentlessly after Love Remains spiked this hunger, this crave, for such music into my brain. It’s a little more spirited than How to Dress Well, with less focus on ambiance, but the song’s stifling, throbbing synths and the confessional slur of the vocalist combine to give the same sort of nightly glow. Plus, it’s rather catchy, which is always a plus. More stuff to be moody to, basically.

You With Air 7″ comes out February 11, 2011, on Carpark Records.

Young Magic “You With Air” by carparkrecords

Patrick Wolf’s new album will be coming out within the next few months or so, and I am incredibly happy because I love him more than words can express.  ”Time Of My Life” is the first song released so far, and you can preorder the 7″ single here.  Side B is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.”

Between each of Sufjan Stevens’ 2010 releases, All Delighted People EP and The Age of Adz (pronounced odds), it was awfully hard to not be enthusiastic at the notion of seeing his act live.  In the past, Sufjan would have a near full orchestra for some shows and play a rather large-scale event, but no words or reviews could have properly prepared anyone for the show his entire ensemble put on last night at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, one of the most lavish and beautiful venues I have ever entered.  Previously, comparing other releases such as Illinois and Seven Swans, I cannot say that I would have been chomping at the bit to see either live, but the energy and mystique that surrounds The Age of Adz was enough to imagine how it would all translate live.  We all can sit and listen to any Sufjan Stevens record and not really get a clear picture as to how much or what kind of emotion was put into this record, but in person, watching the maestro perform his work, everything was revealed.

As the theater lights dimmed, a roar erupted as Sufjan Stevens took stage donned with a small set of white, feathered wings on his back.  Gently strumming his banjo to Seven Swans,” the entire theater was silent as all eyes and attention were squarely on Sufjan as no other band members were visible at this point.  The first break in “Seven Swans,” which was originally just…

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 16 , 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Bryan Adams – Bare Bones (Decca)
A Day To Remember – What Separates Me From You (Victory Records)
Bombay Bicycle Club – Flaws (Island)
Cassidy – Cash (Entertainment One Music)
Crushed Stars – Convalescing In Braille (Simulacra Records)
Curren$y – Pilot Talk 2 (Def Jam)
Lee DeWyze – Live It Up (RCA)
Jackie Evancho – O Holy Night [CD/DVD] (Columbia)
Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album [Soundtrack] (Columbia)
Josh Groban – Illuminations (143 Records)
Norah Jones – …Featuring Norah Jones [Collection of Collaborations] (Blue Note Records)
Kid Rock – Born Free (Atlantic)
Annie Lennox – A Christmas Cornucopia (Decca Records)
Loreena McKennitt – The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Verve)
Nelly – 5.0 (Universal Motown)
P!nk – Greatest Hits…So Far!!! (La Face)
Pink Martini – Joy To The World (Heinz Records)
The Pipettes – Earth vs. The Pipettes (FORTUNA POP)
Rascal Flatts – Nothing Like This (Big Machine Records)
John Regan – Sorry I’m Late (Culture VI)
Rihanna – Loud (Def Jam)
Showbread – Who Can Know It? (Come&Live!)
Bruce Springsteen – The Promise [Compilation of Unreleased Songs] (Columbia)
Stereolab – Not Music (Drag City)
Solefald – Norrøn Livskunst (Indie Recordings) – Trey Spencer
Suicidal Angels – Dead Again (NoiseArt Records)
Chris Tomlin – And If Our…

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(Photo: Romain Kedochim)

Time was, all the phrase “UK hip hop” brought to mind was the impossibly cool Slick Rick and the slightly less cool John Barnes. Ireland was in worse shape, almost apologetically claiming credit for New Yorkers House of Pain. Of course there were wonderful underground acts on both scenes, but they would always lack legitimacy in a genre still dominated by inner-city black Americans.

Times have changed immeasurably since: British rap acts have become a genuine force internationally, and being white and European is no longer the stumbling block it used to. Nevertheless, London-born, Wexford-raised Maverick Sabre had always struggled to define his own identity since leaving the city of his birth aged 4 to live in the land of his father, a nation where to be both Irish and English is often viewed as an oxymoron.

That struggle is one the 20-year-old teases out on his debut single, ‘Sometimes,’ and one of many fresh perspectives he offers to an already creatively thriving London scene. His style will most commonly be compared with Plan B’s – and indeed he’s already played support for his fellow Londoner – with acoustic guitar prominent in all his songs and reggae-tinged singing interspersed with his half-caste rapping voice.

Maverick Sabre – ‘Sometimes’:

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It’s a rare enough event, so we like to celebrate it, when Sputnik’s favourite Aussie pop whore Davey Boy’s tastes overlap with anybody else’s.

It’s even more unusual when two of those rare events collide, but as it happens Davey and I share more than just a name: we both have a keen appreciation of the full-on badassedness of P!nk and the slightly less full-on glamness of Idol pretty boy Adam Lambert.

Here’s the collision – Lambert’s 2010 hit ‘Whataya Want From Me’ was co-written by P!nk and recorded for her 2008 album Funhouse. It didn’t make the final cut, but Lambert gave it a key platform on his debut album For Your Entertainment. Now P!nk’s original demo has emerged and it’s virtually identical – the arrangement is the same, possibly (probably) the same exact instrumental track, but obviously with P!nk’s voice on top.

Being virtually identical, there’s not an awful lot to tell between the two tracks, yet it’s clear even from the rough mix that Lambert’s singing really makes the track – in fact, from the demo it’s pretty clear to see why it wasn’t included on the final mix of Funhouse. In any case, it’s a handy little insight into the fine margins that separate a really good pop single from just another cut on the studio floor.

Pink – ‘Whataya Want From Me’:

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Adam Lambert – ‘Whataya Want From Me’:

Though this song has been floating around for the better part of 2 weeks now, here’s your friendly reminder to give it a listen if you haven’t yet been swallowed by its monstrous swell. Robert Smith, eccentric frontman of goth legends The Cure, teams up with glitched out troublemakers Crystal Castles for this enormous cover of Platinum Blonde’s 1984 hit ‘Not In Love’. Play it at a deafening volume and wait for that chorus to kick in.

Crystal Castles – Not In Love (ft. Robert Smith) by BHughling

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In years gone by, there just never would have been a debate: Snoop Dogg is black.

In recent years, however, Snoop has been seen to engage in a number of typical “white person” pursuits, such as expressing a desire to appear in Coronation Street, playing Metallica songs and continuing to use words ending in “-izzle” years long after it became annoying and everybody else agreed to stop. He may even play golf.

It took an appearance on TBS’ George Lopez show earlier to finally answer the question we’d all been asking: who’s blacker, Snoop Dogg or Charles Barkley? The results are below.

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Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have been presented with an opportunity. It was October 29th and I was about to interview Kelly Shaefer, frontman for the legendary, since-reunited (sort of) death metal band Atheist. This was, and is, kind of a big deal. With the release of Atheist’s first release in 17 years looming, the interview could have gone either way. Luckily, as you’ll find out, it went pretty damn well. For 25 minutes we talked about Jupiter, the nineties, family life and yes, Tony Choy’s name came up. And before you expect controversy, just in case you misread anything, I’ll reiterate something here: Tony and Atheist are not feuding and Tony and Kelly are on good terms. Shit happened, as it does, and in reading this it’s important to remember that.

Jupiter, Atheist's first album in 17 years, comes out tomorrow

Kelly Shaefer: How are you, man?

Tyler Munro: I’m good. How does it feel to be back?

KS: It feels good, man. It’s all really been super-positive, which is refreshing. I mean, compared to our past, it’s been a lot less struggle to get people to kind of understand the music these days. It’s good times for Atheist.

TM: Is that relaxing to kind of just be able to do your thing and not have to…

KS: … yeah, explain overtly. The landscape for music is so much more forgiving now for experimentation. It’s not…

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Depending on who you believe, The Room is either the most unintentionally funny serious movie ever made or the greatest stitch-up of all time. Either way, nobody who sees Tommy Wiseau’s $6 million directorial debut is quite the same afterwards.

Now, the film’s most famous line – “you are tearing me apart, Lisa!” – has its own dubstep remix, and it’s bizarrely catchy. As far as dubstep goes, it doesn’t sound all that dubsteppy (the other, filthier mix sounds more like what I’d consider dubstep), but it’s hard not to admire the way its creator has taken a couple of errant lines and transformed them into an anthem.

Note: this probably won’t make any sense to anyone who hasn’t seen the film. There’s a lesson there.

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Wikipedia fanatics are almost universally regarded as creepy, pedantic weirdos whose insatiable lust for secondary sources is matched only by their desire to reference said sources in a neutral point of view (NPOV). That’s more or less correct.

At the same time, I have to have sympathy for Wikipedia editors, as they are essentially charged with enforcing a set of increasingly detailed and hard-to-follow rules on ignorant but otherwise well-intentioned people. In that sense, you could say the average Wikipedia editor is like Jom on steroids (coincidentally, Jom is actually on steroids).

The worlds of the obsessive Wikipedia editor and the average user clashed again a few months back, when a seemingly random submission to the article for Warren G’s classic G-Funk hit ‘Regulate‘  snowballed and brought dozens of independent contributors together in a quest to provide the most accurate and detailed synopsis of the song.

‘Regulate’ is essentially a synopsis of a night in LA when Warren G (the G stands for Griffin – a good, strong Irish name) is held-up by some gangsters and Nate Dogg comes to his rescue, unloading a friendly round or two in the assailants’ chests while he does. It’s a charming tune and one that translates particularly well to prose (if only for the multitude of trivial details laced among the carnage of the narrative).

The “project” went on for almost a month, with considerable improvements made to the original synopsis, before an editor noticed the high…

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Just a handful of weeks left before 2010 is officially over, but there are still a few more releases left that are going to be worth checking out. In the blog section, be sure to check out Tyler Munro’s interview with Kelly Shaefer of Atheist.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 09 , 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

The Aquabats! – Radio Down! [EP] (Fearless Records)
Alter Bridge – AB III (Alter Bridge Recordings)
Marsha Ambrosius [Floetry] – Late Nights & Early Mornings (J-Records)
As I Lay Dying – The Powerless Rise [Box Set] (Metal Blade)
Atheist – Jupiter (Season of Mist) – Tyler Munro
Attrition – Dreamtime Collectors (Metropolis Records)
Behemoth – Evangelia Heretika [CD/DVD] (Metal Blade Records)
Bon Jovi – Greatest Hits: The Ultimate Collection (Island)
Susan Boyle – The Gift (Syco Music)
Brokencyde – Will Never Die (BreakSilence Recordings)
Cee-Lo Green – The Ladykiller (Radiculture/Elektra)
Julie Christmas – The Bad Wife (Rising Pulse Records)
Clan Of Xymox – Hidden Faces (Metropolis Records)
The Concretes – WYWH (101 DISTRIBUTION) Kiran Soderqvist
Conjure One – Exilarch (Nettwerk Records) – Trey Spencer
Crade of Filth – Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa (Nuclear Blast)
Dave Matthews Band – Live In New York City [2-CDs] (RCA)
Deathspell Omega – Paracletus (Norma Evangelium

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They’re not doing anything we haven’t heard a million times before (particularly with the absurd amount of bands doing it right now) but where The Pains of Being Pure At Heart get off easy is that they capture a charm that few of their peers are able to tap into. Their debut record was playful and new-wave romantic in way that made you forget The Field Mice were doing this way back in the 80’s and their latest single “Heart In Your Heartbreak” shows us that nothing’s changed. Belong isn’t set for release until March next year but here’s your early litmus test (pro tip: don’t take it too seriously):

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Heart In Your Heartbreak by forcefieldpr

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Delerium – Epiphany


2010 Nasty Byte

01. Angelicus
02. Love
03. After All
04. Terra Firma
05. Innocente
06. Self-Saboteur
07. The Way You Want It To Be
08. Twilight
09. Flowers Become Screens
10. Silence
11. Incantation (encore)
12. Forgotten Worlds (credit roll)


Bill Leeb has had an exhausting, yet productive year. He released Improvised Electronic Devices with his Front Line Assembly project, an acoustic album with Delerium, and apparently he’s also just about finished with Delerium’s next full-length album. As if that wasn’t enough, he also managed to get a live DVD released of Delerium’s 2008 performance at Nightclub 9:30 in Washington D.C. with additional footage from Atlanta, West Palm Beach and Montreal. For those that are unfamiliar with Delerium and their music, a live performance might not sound like that big of an undertaking, but it certainly is. Thankfully, despite a few hiccups, Epiphany is an enjoyable experience that is punctuated by stunning visuals and a great clear sound.

Kristy Thirsk

Let’s be honest, Delerium’s music is not exactly built for a live setting. The band’s combination of world music, smooth new age and electronic pop is great for chilling out to, but watching stationary musicians for ninety-five minutes would be a tedious prospect. Fortunately, someone else was thinking the same thing and they incorporated a lot of great visual elements into the DVD’s presentation. The most noticeable…

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